Krawcheck, 85 Broads Push for More Women in Board Rooms

Sallie Krawcheck’s newly acquired global women’s network considers how to capture more seats on corporate boards

Sallie Krawcheck talking to 85 Broads at the Cornell Club in New York. Sallie Krawcheck talking to 85 Broads at the Cornell Club in New York.

As Sallie Krawcheck enters her second month of ownership of the 85 Broads global women’s network, the former Merrill Lynch and Citigroup banker is looking to help more women have an impact on the world of business and finance by taking a seat at the corporate board table.

On Friday, Krawcheck welcomed Pax World CEO Joe Keefe before a group of about 30 female movers and shakers at New York’s Cornell Club and asked him to talk about his socially responsible mutual fund group’s efforts to “lean on” corporate boards and pressure them into offering more board seats to women.

Both Krawcheck and Keefe referenced Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s nationwide campaign encouraging women to “lean in” to their ambitions, but they also joined Daily Beast Editor in Chief Tina Brown’s call to women to demand gender equality and “lean on corporations to change the pitiful representation of women in boardrooms.”

Drawing on facts gathered by Kathleen McQuiggan, Pax World’s senior advisor on gender diversity initiatives, Keefe said that two-thirds of U.S. wealth will be in American women’s hands by 2030, yet women currently earn 77 cents for ever dollar a man earns and only 16% of Fortune 500 corporate board seats belong to women.

“It’s more apparent than ever that we will need to lean on companies to make any progress,” Keefe said before urging the 85 Broads global network of approximately 30,000 women to lean on their financial advisors and 401(k) plan sponsors to pressure companies for fairer board representation. “As shareholders, we have more power than we utilize.”

Pax World has adopted a proxy voting guideline under which the fund firm will not support any slate of directors that does not include women. In most instances, Pax World will not support a full board slate unless it contains at least two women. The firm’s goal is to see women sitting in at least 30% of corporate boardroom seats by 2015, Keefe said.

About half of Pax World’s portfolio managers and salespeople are women, according to Keefe. In addition, the Portsmouth, N.H.-based fund firm offers the $40 million Global Women’s Equality Fund (PXWEX), which yielded a 12.67% return in 2012, according to Morningstar Inc.

Also on Friday, Krawcheck hinted at her future plans for 85 Broads. In addition to announcing that she is actively open to members’ ideas and emails, Krawcheck spoke of “impact investment” and her desire to support women-owned businesses as well as more board representation at large companies.

“Given the makeup of 85 Broads,” she said, “we are clearly at the center of this issue.”

The first members of 85 Broads were women who worked for Goldman Sachs and took their name from the investment banking firm’s former New York headquarters address at 85 Broad Street. Over the past decade, 85 Broads has expanded its membership to women in companies, non-profits and colleges in more than 130 countries.

 Krawcheck, who acquired the global women’s network from founder and former Goldman Sachs executive Janet Hanson, on Wednesday revealed her appointment of financial services and non-profit executive Allyson McDonald as president of 85 Broads. In the newly created role, McDonald will oversee day-to-day operations of the business and work closely with Krawcheck and the 85 Broads members in the development and execution of its future plans.

McDonald has more than 15 years of business development, operations and management experience from Goldman Sachs, Fidelity Investments, and New York Life, Mainstay Investments. Her experience includes work in the non-profit arena with senior roles at Fidelity Charitable and the Clinton Foundation. Currently, she also runs a consultancy in the areas of impact investing and philanthropic services.

Read Sallie Krawcheck to Buy 85 Broads, a Global Women’s Network at AdvisorOne.com.

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